Marshall band to play at majorette festival

Courtesy of Marshall University
Snare drummers in the Marshall University athletic band, the Marching Thunder, form a line at the Joan C. Edwards Stadium in Huntington. The Marching Thunder will perform “Birdland,” “Big Noise from Winnetka” and other jazz songs on Sept. 23 at the Charleston Daily Mail Kanawha County Majorette and Band Festival.
Courtesy of J. Alex Wilson/Marshall University
Marshall University football vs. the University of Southern Mississippi at Joan C. Edwards Stadium on the campus of Marshall University in Huntington, WV. November 2, 2013.
Courtesy of J. Alex Wilson/Marshall University
Marshall University’s athletic band, the Marching Thunder, perform at a halftime show in November. The Marching Thunder will perform “Birdland,” “Big Noise from Winnetka” and other jazz songs on Sept. 23 at the Charleston Daily Mail Kanawha County Majorette and Band Festival.

Adam Dalton used to design shows for the Million Dollar Band at the University of Alabama. Now, he’s the director of Marshall University’s Marching Thunder.

Dalton, who recently received a masters of music education and a doctorate in conducting from the University of Alabama, has taken over for long-time Marching Thunder director Steve Barnett, who left this spring to become a representative for Amro Music.

Dalton admits the revered director of 11 years left a “pretty big void to fill,” but he said he is ready for the challenge. This is his first semester at Marshall.

“My job has been relatively easy because I’m continuing his (Barnett’s) traditions,” Dalton said, though he added there have been challenges during his first two months with the Marching Thunder.

Dalton was hired in July, just a few weeks before band camp was to take place. He said it was a late hire and that many things that should have been done months ago have been pushed back.

“I’m constantly busy making sure things get taken care of,” he said. “And it’s tough because we only get to rehearse a few hours a week.”

While band members have rushed to get ready, Dalton said they are ready to perform their newest show, “Live from the Albee.”

The show, which pays homage to the 86-year-old Keith-Albee Theater in Huntington and features classic jazz and big band pieces such as “Birdland and “Big Noise from Winnetka,” will be performed at each home game until mid-October. Dalton said he is working on a second show, but didn’t want to reveal anything yet.

He said it took about a week to teach the seven minute show’s music and drill formations.

While Dalton isn’t looking to shake things up at Marshall’s music department, he does have plans to make pre-game shows more exciting and interactive. He also would like to see the band do more challenging drill formations and play more pop songs.

“I’m loving it here,” Dalton said. “The community has been great, and the band has been open and excited about the new direction.”

Fans will get a glimpse of the new direction this weekend at Marshall’s first home football game. It also happens to be band day, which brings in several high school bands to share the field with the Marching Thunder.

Later this month, Dalton and the Marching Thunder will share a field with more high school bands when they travel to Charleston for the 68th Daily Mail Kanawha County Majorette and Band Festival.

While this will be Dalton’s first time at the festival, he plans to continue the tradition of using the appearance to recruit potential students.

“I always say the band needs to be visible,” he said. “It’s better than me going out and talking about it because students will get to see us and hopefully get hooked.”

In fact, several Kanawha County graduates who participated in past majorette festivals are members of the Marching Thunder. Taylor Freeland, a 2013 graduate of George Washington High and the 2012 Miss Majorette, is the Marching Thunder’s featured twirler.

Marshall will have an information booth at the festival staffed with recruiters who will be available to talk about opportunities at the school.

Traditionally, Marshall’s band alternates years with West Virginia University’s band, the Pride of West Virginia.

The festival will begin at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 23 at the University of Charleston Stadium at Laidley Field.

Tickets cost $7 in advance and $8 at the gate and can be purchased at each of the eight county high schools, Kerr’s Music World, Gorby’s Music or Laidley Field.

Contact writer Samuel Speciale at or 304-348-4886. Follow him at

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